Three Years, Eight Months, And Twenty Days: The Cambodian Atrocities And The Search For Justice
For three years, eight months, and twenty days, the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot ruled Cambodia. They enacted a program of harsh internment, torture, and subjection of the Cambodia people to inhumane living conditions, starvation, forced labor, forced marriage, and execution. Nearly one fourth of the Cambodian population was murdered.
Created in partnership with the Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern School of Law, Chicago, and the Sleuk Rith Institute, this exhibition details the history of the Pol Pot regime, the devastation of the Cambodian population, and the long process to prosecute the perpetrators. Through 29 descriptive panels, visitors will see photographs of the victims of the S-21 prison, where thousands perished through means of imprisonment, starvation, and murder; examples of survivor’s artwork used as evidence in trial, created to represent the darkest times of their lives; and also have the opportunity to view a 22-minute distillation of a trial reel from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which presents the highlights of the trial of S-21 prison leader, Kaing Guek Eav (aka “Duch”). Included in this trial reel is the powerful arguments from the co-presenters fighting on behalf of the Cambodian people as well as the heartbreaking testimony from survivors of S-21 prison.
About the Cambodian Genocide
On April 17, 1975 the Khmer Rouge took full control of Phnom Penh and forced evacuations of nearly two million people into the countryside to begin the implementation of the party’s vision of a rural, classless society. Thousands died during the evacuations; while those whom survived were forced into agricultural labor and striped of their basic human rights. Over 1.7 million Cambodians perished by 1979 as a result of an untold number of killings carried out in more than 19,000 execution sites, and the consequences of Khmer Rouge policy that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths from overwork, starvation, and disease.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), created by the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, became fully operational in June 2007 to bring to justice senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime and those who were most responsible for international crimes and violations of Cambodian penal law from April 17, 1975, to January 6, 1979.